The head of RCS Sport has apologised after stage six of Tirreno-Adriatico served up one of cycling's most difficult days of racing in years.
Michele Acquarone, the managing director of the organiser of the race, expressed his regret after a brutal route saw 52 riders abandon and one other finish outside of the time limit.
The 209km rolling parcours was littered with savage climbs and included three ascents of Sant'Elpidio a Mare, a nightmare hill that exceeds 27 per cent in gradient and forced many riders to dismount and push.
Acquarone said on Twitter: "Many of you enjoyed it, but it was too much. We lost the right balance. If you lose half your peloton, you just have to be honest and learn from mistakes."
Some of the riders who tackled the stage have been giving their reaction ...
- Alberto Contador (finished seventh): "The hill was incredible. Sometimes you believe it is not possible on the bike."
- Rigoberto Uran (60th) on Twitter: "I think a one month to recover from today, I'm almost dead."
- Jurgen Roelandts (eighth) on Twitter: "Never did a climb on asphalt where my back wheel start slipping, even though it was raining."
- Taylor Phinney (disqualified) on Twitter: "Probably the most trying day I've ever had on a bike. When I wanted to stop, I thought about my Dad and I didn't quit. I made it, 37min down."
- Fabian Cancellara (68th) on Twitter: "I have just to say today's stage has nothing to do with bike racing. All the steep climbs we done you find in the area. I call it #sadomaso"
- Daryl Impey (22nd) on Twitter: "Gave today everything I had. One climb too many at the end. Glad it's over now. That was a crazy hard day."
- Joaquim Rodriguez (third): "People will remember this stage for a long time."
- Maarten Wynants (82nd) on Twitter: "What a day, one off the hardest stages I ever had."
- Cadel Evans (18th) on Twitter: "Tough day at the office; 'character building' - an old friend would say."
- Dan Martin (40th) on Twitter: "Epic day of racing. Guys will hate me for saying it but loved every minute #mything"
- Michal Kwiatkowski (16th) on Twitter: "For stages like today we need two-wheel drive on this slippery steep climb!"
- Greg van Avermaet (33rd) on Twitter: "Hard day in Tirreno, bad weather, too many steep climbs and 210km. "
- Manuel Belletti (91st) on Twitter: "Impossible stage."
- Rinaldo Nocentini (93rd) on Twitter: "A gruelling stage, maybe too much!"
- Chris Froome (19th) on Twitter: "Killer stage today. We emptied ourselves out there to try retain the lead but this time it wasn't enough."
- Peter Sagan (first): "Today was a very hard parcours"
- Mark Cavendish (DNF) on Twitter: "It was truly grim today in #TirrenoAdriatico"